Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD712z loudspeaker July 2015

Robert Deutsch reviewed the TD712zMK2 in July 2015 (Vol.38 No.7):

Of the speakers I've reviewed over the years, one stands out as being the most unusual, and I remember it with particular fondness: Fujitsu Ten's Eclipse TD712z. Looking like something that would be at home aboard the Starship Enterprise, this egg-shaped, single-driver speaker distinguished itself by its transparency, resolution, soundstaging, and lack of coloration. While no match for any number of comparably priced (or less expensive) multidriver speakers in bass extension and maximum attainable loudness, the strengths of the TD712z were such that I was sorely tempted to buy the review pair.

Since its release, in 2004, the TD712z has won a following among musicians and recording engineers, but its acceptance among audiophiles in North America has been limited—perhaps because of spotty marketing. However, Eclipse has continued to refine the speaker. The TD712zMk.2 continues as the top model of the Eclipse line. Eclipse was recently picked up for North American distribution by On a Higher Note, headed by Philip O'Hanlon, whose other lines include Mola Mola, Luxman, and Vivid (footnote 1). I was happy to have a chance to acquaint myself with the successor to a speaker that had so impressed me.

What's New?
I haven't seen the old and new models side by side, but going by pictures and memory, the TD712zMk.2 looks much the same as the TD712z (which I'll call the Mk.1). However, the enclosure is now bigger—the interior volume is 50% greater—and Fujitsu Ten describes a number of improvements in a white paper available on their website. The fiberglass driver is still 4.7" (120mm)—apparently they tried larger drivers and didn't like the sonic tradeoffs—but with some refinements that, in combination with the larger cabinet, have resulted in improved bass extension: down to 35Hz, vs 40Hz. There's also a claimed improvement in the impulse response. The sound has also benefited from a more optimal distance between what Fujitsu calls the "grand anchor" behind the driver and the driver, and use of a nonmagnetic spacer has resulted in a 10% increase in magnetic flux density.

The Mk.1's cone was made of a single layer of fiberglass; in the Mk.2, a second, cotton layer is added, to reduce unwanted resonances. The cone surround is corrugated, resulting in a better match of the cone's movements forward and back, and superior excursion linearity. Not discussed in the white paper but noted in the specifications is the extension of the TD712zMk.2's reproduction of high frequencies, from 20kHz to 26kHz, –10dB. That may not seem too impressive, but remember: it's accomplished by a driver of a size inherently better suited to covering the midrange and the bass, with no DSP or other signal manipulation to help extend the treble response. The frequency responses are: Mk.1: 40Hz–20kHz, –10dB. Mk.2: 35Hz–26kHz, –10dB.

Alas, the price has risen from $7000 to $10,600/pair.

Setup and System
My renovated listening room is now a space that strikes a good balance between the reflective and the reverberant, sounding neither overdamped nor too lively (if perhaps leaning slightly toward the latter). At 16' long by 14' wide by 7.5' high, it's of a size that provided a good match for the Eclipse TD712zMk.2s. I positioned the Eclipses to form an 8.2' equilateral triangle with my listening position, the speakers aimed directly at my ears. The Mk.1's backtilt could be adjusted with a hex wrench, but the Mk.2 requires no tools for this. I don't remember having any particular difficulty in aiming the Mk.1s, but doing this for the Mk.2 was exceptionally easy. The stand—included in the price—is an ingenious design that maintains the advantages of spiked mounting without damaging a hardwood floor.

The system was the same as in my review of the GoldenEar Triton One, in the February 2015 issue: PS Audio DirectStream DAC and PerfectWave Transport, Convergent Audio Technology SL-1 Renaissance preamp, McIntosh MC275LE amplifier, PS Audio P5 AC regenerator, and Nordost Valhalla 2 interconnects and speaker cables.

Transparency, resolution, soundstaging—these were the characteristics of the TD712z that I praised in my 2007 review. Given that I did not have samples of that original version on hand for comparison, and that my system and the listening room's acoustic have changed since then, it would be foolish to ascribe any differences in sound exclusively to the speakers—that old, confounding problem. Nonetheless, these are the same characteristics I heard in the Mk.2.

By transparency, I mean a quality of sound that allows us to hear what's on the record while adding a minimum of distortion and/or coloration. Listening through the TD712zMk.2s, I had the feeling that there was little between me and the players and singers, the speakers making their presence felt only through the music produced, and never sounding like "speakers." I've heard other speakers in my system that have approached this ideal, but none as closely as did the TD712zMk.2. It had the lowest level of "speaker sound" I've yet encountered—the original Quad is perhaps its only rival. Voices, male and female, came across with a very natural quality, limited only by sonic manipulation (EQ, reverb) added during recording and postproduction.

Minimizing distortion and coloration is one thing; resolution is a bit different. A speaker can sound natural, adding little sound of its own to the music being reproduced, but for most audiophiles this is not enough. We also want the speaker to resolve everything present on the recording, and not gloss over the fine details. If this means revealing things about the sound of the recording and associated components that perhaps are better left unheard, then so be it.

The TD712zMk.2's high resolution of details combined synergistically with the PS Audio DirectStream DAC, particularly with the DirectStream having been updated with the latest operating system, Pikes Peak (footnote 2). PS Audio claims that the DirectStream DAC is able to reveal on CDs "information that you didn't know was there." Indeed, I found this to be the case—but I couldn't have heard this finely detailed information unless the speakers themselves had been able to resolve it. The TD712zMk.2s were. This characteristic was particularly welcome when I played recordings of orchestral music from the early days of the Compact Disc, which formerly tended to sound like mush. Through the PSA DirectStream and the Fujitsu Eclipses the sound was much less mushy, much more like music, with better differentiation of instrumental textures. The TD712zMk.2 also excelled at resolution of subtle dynamic changes, at least when the overall sound level was not too high.

Eight years ago, in my review of the TD712z, I said that their "precision of imaging and soundstage definition were virtually in classes by themselves." Since then I've had more speakers in my listening room, and while the room itself has undergone some acoustical improvements and there have been changes in the system, that statement applies to the TD712zMk.2s as well. With the best recordings, the soundstage was wide and deep, with individual instruments and voices precisely positioned on it. Of speakers within my recent experience, the ones with the best soundstaging were the GoldenEar Triton Ones, but even they must take a back seat to the TD712zMk.2s. Multi-driver speakers such as the Triton One use crossovers and the spatial alignment of drivers to approximate the effect of sounds emanating from a single point—but they're no match for single-driver speakers such as the TD712zMk.2, in which sounds actually do radiate from a single point.

Of course, single-driver speakers have their own limitations. The original TD712z couldn't play very loud and didn't go very low. The Eclipse design team's stated aim in developing the Mk.2 was to improve the original's power handling and extend its frequency response (especially in the bass), while maintaining or improving the accuracy of its impulse response. I take it from the TD712zMk.2's superb imaging and reproduction of transients that the speaker has at least maintained the exemplary time-domain performance of its predecessor. But what about power handling and the bass?

It's tricky to assess power handling without actually measuring: it comes down to playing music louder and louder until it seems subjectively "loud enough," while noting whether or not the music is beginning to sound distorted (or the speakers are going up in smoke).

To push the TD712zMk.2s to what is, for me, a listening level somewhat higher than normal but still appropriate for the music, I played "Baby Driver," from Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water (CD, Columbia 9914), set the volume as high as I was comfortable with, and hoped that wouldn't damage the Eclipses' drivers (it didn't—whew!). Studio Six's Digital SPL Meter App for the iPhone 6, set for C weighting, fast response, registered a peak of 92.6dB. Could I have gone louder? Maybe, but I didn't want to chance it. Many multidriver systems can play louder, and my Avantgarde Uno Nano hybrid speakers (horn plus dynamic subwoofer) would hardly break a sweat at this level.

Again, I didn't have the original TD712zes on hand to verify Eclipse's claim of having extended the low end from 40 to 35Hz. But just for the fun of it I took some informal measurements of the TD712zMk.2s, using the test signals on Test CD 2 (Stereophile STPH004-2) and my SPL meter (C weighting, fast). Playing a 200Hz tone at a measured level of 77dB (which corresponds to a normal volume-control setting), the response was well maintained down to 40Hz, with elevations of 86 and 80dB at, respectively, 50 and 40Hz—which may represent help from room modes. Test CD 2 has no test tones between 40 and 31.5Hz, so I couldn't test Fujitsu's claim of 35Hz extension, but by 31.5Hz the response had dropped to 65dB. Considering the fact that the TD712zMk.2's claimed bass extension is 35Hz, –10dB, and the iPhone 6's built-in microphone rolls off at the bottom, this is in the ballpark. Of course, these measurements are not in the same class of standardization and repeatability as the ones made by John Atkinson, so I wouldn't claim too much for them, but they give you at least some idea of the speaker's low-end performance.

Subjectively, the bass didn't seem weak, and with some recordings—eg, Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra's of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (HDCD, Reference RR-93 HDCD)—it was surprisingly extended, and certainly much better than one would expect from a pair of 4.7" drivers.

The Speaker for You?
In my 2007 review, I described the TD712z as "an extraordinary loudspeaker whose clarity, transparency, resolution, imaging, and timbral accuracy match or exceed those of just about every other speaker I've had in my system or heard at shows." In 2015, I can describe the TD712zMk.2 in the same words. As with the Mk.1, the Mk.2's limitations are in its maximum loudness level and its bass extension and power. However, Eclipse has made advances in both areas, and listeners who found that the MK1 fell just short of what they consider acceptable in these regards may find that the Mk.2 meets their criteria.

Having said that—and as much as I love these speakers—the TD712zMk.2 may not ultimately satisfy the audiophile who wants a speaker that can play loud and is capable of thunderous bass, especially in a large room. For them, Eclipse makes two subwoofers designed to match the TD712zMk.2: the TD-720W ($3600) and the TD-725W ($6400). I've heard nothing but excellent reports about the Eclipse subs; if price is not a deterrent, and your main reservation about the TD712zMk.2 concerns the bass, they offer potential solutions. Although you could use a single sub, I'd want to use a pair of subs, and I'd want to make sure that they were set up very carefully. Also, the main speakers must be driven directly rather than through a high-pass filter that rolls off the bottom end, which means that the sub is not going to help with power handling.

Still, if you don't require bass that you can feel as well as hear, I can tell you that in a modestly sized room, with no help from subwoofers, the TD712zMk.2s delivered sound that was . . . well . . . extraordinary. As I write this, I know that the review samples of the TD712zMk.2 have been purchased by the local Eclipse dealer, and that in a few days their staff will come by to pick them up. Maybe I could pretend not to be home . . . —Robert Deutsch

Footnote 1: The Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD712z was reviewed in the January 2007 issue, Vol.30 No.1, Fujitsu Ten Limited, 2-28 Gosho-Dori 1-Chome, Hyogo-Ku, Kobe 652-8510, Japan. Web: US distributor: On a Higher Note, PO Box 698, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693. Tel: (949) 544-1990. Fax: (949) 612-0201. Web:

Footnote 2: See my Follow-Up on PS Audio's Pikes Peak OS in the May 2015 issue.

Fujitsu Ten Limited
US distributor: Mickey Tachibana
(415) 244-8341